I can still recall the tears, the angry tweets, the absolute shock even now…
TV lovers the country over went into mourning when the BBC made the decision to axe favourite spy drama, Spooks after ten successful series. People feared their lives may never be the same again.
OK. So perhaps I’m being a little too dramatic. After all, I love a good drama and Spooks was one of the best on the box. But alright, if we’re really honest with ourselves, the programme had probably run its course (never mind that half it’s main cast had been killed off – it’s apparently quite dangerous, being a spy). In fact, the whole spy genre, whilst extremely successful in television, both here in the UK and abroad, feels like it needs a new lease of life.
And as if by magic… Introducing, ‘Hunted’. A new serial spy drama by writer Frank Spotnitz (of X Files fame) based on events that unfold within a private espionage firm in London (that’s right, Government espionage is soooo last year darling).
A joint venture for BBC One by Kudos Film & Television, Big Light Productions, and HBO’s Cinemax channel (a lot of fingers in this pie chaps), ‘Hunted’ is an action-packed suspense thriller series that looks and feels like a big budget movie. In fact, if you schmooshed (technical term) all eight episodes together in one big lump, and played it in a cinema, a movie is exactly what you’d have (a bloomin’ long movie, but a movie nonetheless).
Melissa George (The Slap, In Treatment) stars as Sam Hunter (get what they did there? ‘Hunter’… ‘Hunted’, you’re impressed already, I can tell), a spy who, whilst working a case abroad discovers she’s been betrayed by one of her team.
When she is targeted by a group of trained killers in a location she has only mentioned to one other person – colleague and love interest Aiden (Adam Rayner) – it seems the culprit of her betrayal is obvious. However, as events unfold, we begin to see that things are not quite as straightforward as they seem (when are they ever?).
Presumed dead by her team back in London, Sam uses her ‘death’ to… er… well, hike a lot and practice holding her breath under water for prolonged periods of time (your guess is as good as mine, perhaps she’s planning a little dip in the Hyde park Lido on her return to the capital?).
Cue some intriguing scenes involving a mysterious symbol in all the national newspapers and an awkward and slightly frosty reception back at work (you’d think she’d been caught in the stationary cupboard snogging the boss at the Christmas Party).
Throwing herself into the requests of the organisation’s latest client, Sam’s on a mission to find the mole on the team; the person who betrayed her and she’s trusting no one!
Melissa George is nothing short of mesmerising as the no nonsense, kick-ass Sam. The Aussie-born actress carries off an English accent with ease and sounds surprisingly fluent in French in several scenes also. Add to this her unbelievably authentic fight scenes, which she claims she did almost all of herself, and you’ve got yourself one seriously feisty fictional spy you do not want to mess with!
Alongside the fight scenes and twists and turns in the plot, there’s an emotional side to Melissa’s character and her story which women will find hard not to identify with. Trust is a substantial issue for Sam Hunter, and the more she doubts her colleagues, the more the viewer begins to doubt also.
In fact, Melissa and Adam claim that, instead of being able to read the entire script, when shooting certain scenes, Director, S.J. Clarkson, would prompt each of their performances separately with information that only one of them would know. So at any given time the actors may only have had as much information to go on as the audience. Interesting stuff eh?
The series also throws into question the morality of private espionage. The team are regularly meddling in and even destroying the lives of strangers at the request of their clients. What happens if it emerges that the client is in fact the one in the wrong – the ‘baddie’ if you will?
This first episode will set you on the edge of your seat, have you biting your nails and wanting to take up marshal arts just so you can look as awesome as Sam Hunter when kicking the ‘[email protected]&’ out of the bad guys. A lot of curious ‘seeds’ are planted throughout the hour and they all point towards a brilliant series full of twists, shocks and other awesome spy stuff.
So, if you crave excitement, mystery and intrigue, throw on your “I heart Spooks’ t-shirt, stick the 4th October in your diaries and get ready to be ‘Hunted’.
Hunted Begins Thursday 4th October 9pm on BBC1